Until Elia Bizzari showed up, I was one of the youngest guys in the room. And I’m a codgery 51 years old.
Of all the incredible things I learned during the weekend, virtually none of it – zero, zip, nada – was stuff you can find in online videos.
These two thoughts are related. The amazing generation of white-haired woodworkers at that event are just as likely to start a YouTube channel as Thomas Lie-Nielsen is to move his factory to China. It’s not that these woodworkers aren’t intelligent or skilled or have a deep desire to share what they know. They have all those things – as much as any YouTube creator I’ve met.
It’s just that digital media – creating it, maintaining it, promoting it – is not their bag.
It’s not my bag, either. I made the choice to make books. And I will spend the rest of my days fighting to preserve the knowledge of other people in books and on this blog. (If you think it should be preserved via digital video, I encourage you to start your own company to do this.)
But most of all, I encourage you to shut your laptop or iPad and experience real life woodworking. Join one of the fantastic organizations that are filled with people with vast experience and memories. Have a meal with them. Go to their seminars. Ask them questions. Put your hands on the tools and see the work being done before your eyes. Real life is different than video. It has a taste. A smell.
One might say it is the difference between online pornography and true love. But I don’t know anything about that.
As a practicing aesthetic anarchist, I don’t tend to join organizations. It’s not my bag. But there are three that I have long been a member of and adore:
Oh, I am also a member of the Black Keys fan club. And I am a former member of the Radio Shack Battery Club, but that is sadly defunct.
All three woodworking/tool organizations have low – piddling, really – membership fees. And you get so much more back for that money. Especially access to that deep, life-long knowledge that is hard to acquire and is – like it or not – best shared in person.
During our most recent open day, Derek Jones gave a great lecture about French polishing for the attendees, and that made me think: We should do this every month.
So on our next open day, Saturday Aug. 10, I will give a free lecture at 2 p.m. on scrapers. This is a demonstration that I recently gave to the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. It covers sharpening scrapers, cabinet scrapers and scraping planes. Plus how to use all three tools and how to grind card scrapers to special shapes to deal with mouldings.
This is not information that I have published before. And it’s absolutely not going to be a sales pitch for the Crucible card scraper or any other product. It’s just a way for us to give back something to the woodworking community that supports us.
(I know someone is going to ask this in the comments, but we don’t have the technology to film or stream events from the storefront. So this is something that will occur in real life only. Apologies.)
Megan and I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for future lectures, everything from installing butt hinges to cutting mitered dovetails. If you have a particular topic that you would like to see, let us know in the comments and we will consider it.
As always, our open days are intended to be a fun way for you to meet other woodworkers, learn a bit about the craft and visit Covington and Cincinnati. If you ask, we will sell you a book or tool, but commerce is not the reason we open our doors.
One of the people who had the greatest impact on Malcolm was his grandfather, Rap Gardner. At an early age, Granddad would give him guidance on how to make items with wood. He still remembers making a birdhouse before he started grammar school. From those early days Malcolm always had an interest in woodworking. It wasn’t until after he got married that woodworking became a necessary hobby. In 1976, after scraping together enough money with his wife, Tere, to buy their first home, there was nothing left for furniture. He purchased a Craftsman table saw and converted a bedroom into a shop (there was no garage) and proceeded to make their furniture, some of which is in use today.
In 1993, Malcolm had a shop full of tools and a house full of furniture, so his desire to stay active in the shop turned to woodturning. For the first year, Malcolm turned in isolation. He knew nothing about woodturning clubs, the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) or the fact that there were schools scattered throughout America that offered workshops on turning methods. Turning bowls was a great place to start, with instant gratification, but after turning a few dozen bowls, he found life at the lathe became boring. He started gluing in a few pieces of wood to add some character and color, not really knowing that he was creating “segmented” turnings.
In 1994, Malcolm discovered there was to be an AAW woodturning symposium in Fort Collins, Col. Because he had the time and the resources he decided to attend and took along a few of his pieces to display in the open gallery. He was so new to turning that he had no idea who any of the presenters were but ended up in a workshop on deep vessel hollow forms taught by Clay Foster. This was his first exposure to professional turning – the first time that he witnessed another person turn wood. By the end of the weekend he befriended a gentleman by the name of Ray Allen, one of the world’s best-known segmenters. Ray was an inspiration to Malcolm and his first real turning mentor. Ray’s work as a segmented turner elevated the craft to an acceptable form of art turning, and it boosted segmented turnings to the collector level. Prior to Ray, segmented turning didn’t have a great reputation due to so many gluing failures and improper construction methods. However, Malcolm saw segmented turning as a truly unique art form that was in its infancy. He was hooked.
Malcolm then discovered an AAW turning chapter in Sacramento and religiously made the two-hour trip to meetings every month for years. He became driven to learn all he could about turning while creating and developing new processes in his segmented works. By 1997, he became a regular instructor at the annual AAW symposium and eventually became a board member and even the vice president. Although he didn’t become a full-time professional turner until after he retired from the ski industry in 2002, his work was represented at a gallery in San Francisco called the Stones Gallery. Within eight short years Malcolm had gone from a turning beginner to a turner extraordinaire.
During the last three decades Malcolm has developed many innovations such as the porthole feature ring, ribbon construction, dizzy bowls, checkered hollow forms, tubular construction and orderly tangles. His work ranges from tiny jewelry items to outdoor sculptural pieces that require a crane for installation. He, along with Bill Smith and Curt Theobald, are the founding fathers of the Segmented Woodturners, an AAW chapter with hundreds of members around the world that host a biennial symposium. He has written three books, self-produced countless educational videos and has a big following on YouTube.
However, his greatest contribution to the world of polychromatic turning is much more than inventing new ways to glue together pieces of wood. Malcolm is responsible for crossing the line between fine woodworking and fine turning. Through intuition, remarkable engineering and clever designs he has transformed the process of cutting, gluing and assembling wood in contorted ways. Then, with the skills of a virtuoso turner, he has proven that the two crafts, woodworking and woodturning, can collide and live in harmony.
You can now place a pre-publication order for our historical reprint of “The Joiner & Cabinet-Maker,” which will ship out in late September.
The price is just $12 as a thank-you to everyone who has supported us during the last 12 years.
The book is a copy of the original text from the early 19th century, likely 1839. It tells the fictional story of young Thomas and his apprenticeship in a rural British joinery shop. Plus there’s the villain, Sam, and the love interest, Sally. What’s most interesting about the book is the descriptions of historical practice. The anonymous author was clearly someone who had grown up in a period workshop.
This historical reprint is being printed on high-bulk paper to feel like the original text. The signatures are sewn for durability, like the original. And the book is covered in a heavy textured paper with gold debossing. (The original had a paper cover with a thin cloth cover, but we couldn’t find a printer that could do this economically.)
It’s a small book (4-1/8” x 6-3/8”) and a quick read – just 120 pages. And produced and printed entirely in the USA.
After the reprint arrives in our warehouse in September, we will also offer it bundled with our 2009 version of “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker,” which features essays from Joel Moskowitz and additional construction information from me. For now, we’re taking pre-publication orders for people who want the reprint only. This will keep the shipping situation much simpler.
As always, we don’t ship internationally. But we will offer this book to our international retailers. It is up to them as to whether they will stock it.
One of the things we strive to do at Lost Art Press is give away as much information as we possibly can, whilst still eating, sheltering and being (you’re welcome) fully clothed.
And so today we are offering my 2017 book “Roman Workbenches” as a free download. You don’t have to register, give us your email or type in some code at checkout. Heck, you don’t even have to prove you’re not a robot. Robots are welcome to download it as many times as they like (poor misbegotten robots).
All you have to do is click the link below, and the pdf will download to your computer or phone.
“Roman Workbenches” was the precursor to “Ingenious Mechanicks,” my most recent book. “Roman Workbenches” explores the origins of the first-known Western workbench. “Ingenious Mechanicks” traces the development of the workbench through the 1600s.
We printed “Roman Workbenches” via letterpress, which was a crazy and fun experiment. It was a short press run. And the letterpress company, Steamwhistle, closed its doors shortly after publication. (It was not our fault, promise.) After we published “Ingenious Mechanicks,” the Roman book became somewhat of an orphan.
So we are inviting you to adopt it today – free of charge. It has its shots and is ready to go home with you.